Offshore Outsourcing – Effective Cost-saver or Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Today’s topic is all about outsourcing overseas. 

So when you start to look at all the different marketing things that I’m suggesting that you do, but even at a higher level of the things that you must do—actively posting on social media, keeping your website up-to-date, leveraging some source of paid traffic so that you’re running leads, branding, getting back and responding to emails, and customer service—whether that means leveraging live chat or some other kind of system on a regular basis. There’s a lot of different things that you need to do. And then the list of things that you could do is 50 miles long and 10 miles deep—it’s just an ever-growing list. 

Now the whole point though is to really focus on the different things that are going to produce you reliable and consistent results. That is the name of the game here, we’re trying to continue to produce reliable results so that you can start to have a certain level of predictability when it comes to scaling your business

One of my favorite ways to start to help take some of these things off your plate is to leverage overseas workers. There’s a lot of different stigmas and just kind of misnomers, so to speak of what does that mean. What countries? What are they going to be doing? What if they mess something up? So I wanted to at least give you a primer and I’m happy to do some future episodes if you like this particular topic. 

The first place that I like to look at what do I really want to take off my plate as I go and I just really make a list of what are all the things that bring me energy. What are all the things that I just absolutely hate doing? Basically, I enjoy doing content like this. I enjoy shooting videos, writing, proposals, speaking with our clients—so I would make that list. Then if I start to list out one of the things that I don’t like doing, such as constantly being on top of my email, having to micromanage either clients or my team, a lot of the follow-up stuff, and all of the different project management—really being on top of all the details. I would continue to make that list. 

What I’m looking for initially is if there are one or two types of skills that could somewhat be easily replaced by someone else other than me. What you’re looking to do is you’re looking to try and have your energy and your time focus on the core things that bring you energy. Some people call them MBA’s or the most valuable activities, some people call them your superpowers. What are the things that you are so good at that it would never make sense to have someone else execute on your behalf? 

And then again, look at the other side of the list of let’s start to group some of these activities, and then look for a person or two that could potentially join your team to help you take some of these things off your plate. Now, there’s a couple of different ways that you can approach this and I’m going to give you what I’ve done in the past and what I currently do. 

The first place that I recommend you take a look at is What I love about Upwork is that you’re able to list out exactly what you’re looking for—exactly how much you’re willing to pay. Then people essentially bid on your project. When you start to get these bids, you’re going to be able to size up the types of people very quickly. Now, you can focus on particular countries or on particular talents. There’s just a lot of things that you’re able to start to gather—you can look at people’s scores, their ratings, what type of background, or how many similar jobs they’ve had. What I’d like about Upwork, among other things, is that it allows you to kind of test out a particular person to see if it makes sense to have them on your team for a longer-term. 

You could start with 10 hours and let’s just say you’re going to offload following up on social media and general customer service. You could look at particular countries and I’m going to laser in on the Philippines because that’s where I have been hiring from in particular. And you can start to solicit more applications from there. What you’re going to find is that typically anywhere in the $3 to $6 or $7 an hour range is what you’re going to end up finding for countries like the Philippines. These are people that have had customer service experience, they’ve done social media, their English is very, very good. It’s not flawless, but it’s very, very good. I don’t know too many people that even have English as their first language that has flawless English. And again, it allows you to start to test out some of these different people. I highly recommend that you just start with some of the things that are a little bit more mundane and cumbersome that you just hate doing that will immediately start to free up your calendar and your time. 

If I look at what are some of those marketing things that are quite good to offload? It’s more of the generic things—data gathering, posting on social media, following up again, with live chat, emails, and customer service, those types of things. What you’re going to want to do is and this is the key to all of this, is that a lot of people try offshoring work. They tell me, well, “Michael, it didn’t work. It was terrible. I had a bad experience.” 

What I always try and do is I start to reverse engineer. How did things start off? Did you onboard the particular person? Did you give them some training? How was the training? You need to make sure that your expectations are very clear and you need to make sure that you’re giving content, videos, audios, and screenshots that again, show exactly what you’re looking for. I’ve always found that it’s not people that fail. It’s systems that fail. And I’ve got, 10-15 different people working for me on our team that are now based in the Philippines. 

While we started with Upwork, and we do use Upwork, for a lot of one-off projects and things that are shorter term, we’re now hiring on various sites in the Philippines and bringing on full-time team members. Over the years, I’ve had to really refine what our process looks like to make sure that we’re bringing the right people—people that are culture fit, that their skills match up with what we’re looking for, and hard worker. If you execute this well, this can very quickly free up 5-10-15 plus hours or more of your time, each and every week. 

So my recommendation is to start with Upwork after you make that list of what you love doing and what you’re great at and what you hate. Then grab a person or two for 5-10-15 hours a week, and just start to test the process. However, make sure to manage your expectations by giving them clear deadlines and clear instructions. 

Hope you enjoyed today’s episode on outsourcing. 

Get out there, make a change, and take some action. 

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